¿Hasta cuaaaando ya?: A lesson in Chilean slang

When I arrived in Chile three months ago, people’s stories were a lot wilder than they are now. One day at lunch, for example, I learned there’s a two-week period every August where Venezuelans take to the street and eat banana Jello, and I considered making a trip.

As I’ve grown more accustomed to the language, the stories have calmed down a bit and have started to make more sense. But to understand them completely, it helps to recognize the slang that peppers most every Chilean sentence.

Here’s a quick guide to the Chilean slang I’ve picked up on so far:
Al tiro — Immediately
Bacán — Cool!
¿Cachai? — Get it?
Carrete — Party
Fome — Boring
Guagua — Baby
Guata — Belly
Huevón(a) — Buddy, Dude, Man, Jerk or Asshole, depending on the context.
Often added to the end of a sentence to indicate familiarity.
La onda — Attitude, mood, character of person.
As in “Ella es buena onda” or “She’s got a good vibe.”
La pega — Work, Job
Pololo(a) — Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Po — Well
Short for “pues.” Added onto the end of many sentences and phrases.
As in “Sí po” or “No po.”
Ponte las pilas
— Go for it! Try harder!
Literally “Put your batteries in.”
La raja — Excellent, Cool, The shit
El tuto — Sleepiness (in a cute sense)
As in “Tengo tuto” or “I’m sleepy,” and “Voy a hacer tuto” or “I’m going to take a nap.”
Wea — That shit
As in “Esa wea no funciona” or “That shit doesn’t work,” and “Esa wea está mala” or “That shit is bad.”

A separate slang culture, mainly driven by the baqueanos (Chilean cowboys), has developed within the park. Here a few phrases you need to get around here:
Meh — A sound used to express surprise or disbelief
Vamos, VAAAAH-mos — Let’s go, leeeeet’s go.
Shouted as loud as possible, often by a baqueano, a guide or me, when prodded
¿Hasta cuaaaando, yaaaa? — When’s it gonna stop?
Literally, “Until when, already?”
Uttered with a nasally voice in fake annoyance

There you have it. Consider yourself Chilean.


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One Response to “¿Hasta cuaaaando ya?: A lesson in Chilean slang”

  1. MarK Says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    The Chileans have a distinctive way of addressing “you” (singular).

    All you need to do is look at the conjugation of “vosotros” used in Spain.
    1. For -ÁIS (or -AIS) you just drop the final -S.
    2. -ÉIS and -ÍS are merged to -ÍS with the final -S aspirated so that it sounds more like -ÍH.


    andas, andabas, anduvieras, andarías, comías, comieras, comerías, venías, vinieras, vendrías
    andáis, andabais, anduvierais, andaríais, comíais, comierais, comeríais, veníais, vinierais, vendríais
    andái, andabai, anduvierai, andaríai, comíai, comierai, comeríai, veníai, vinierai, vendríai

    que comas, que vengas, No comas!, No vengas!
    que comáis, que vengáis, No comáis!, No vengáis!
    que comái, que vengái, No comái!, No vengái!

    comes, vienes
    coméis, venís
    comís, venís

    que andes, No andes!
    que andéis, No andéis!
    que andís, No andís!

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